A Top Democrat Just Set a Hard Deadline for Trump to Hand Over His Tax Returns

Here’s what will likely happen if he doesn’t.

Evan Vucci/AP

A top House Democrat stepped up the heat on Saturday in the fight for access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, demanding that the IRS hand over the documents to members of Congress by a late April deadline.

Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, first made the request on April 3 for six years of Trump’s personal and business taxes, information that could shed light on the president’s business dealings and potential conflicts of interest. The Trump administration quickly pushed back: It hired a team of lawyers to focus on the issue, and told the IRS it needed more time to consider Neal’s request.

On Saturday, Neal sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, arguing that a 1924 law clearly gives Congress the right to see Trump’s taxes. He set a hard deadline of April 23 for the agency to comply with his request. “It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivation of the Committee or its reasonable determination regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information,” Neal wrote. 

The Trump administration missed a previous April 10 deadline to share these documents, and the White House has said they will “never” be turned over. Trump has argued in the past that he could not reveal his tax returns to the public because he was under a routine audit, though being under audit does not legally prevent these documents from being released. “I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request and the authority of the Committee,” Neal wrote in his letter to the IRS commissioner. “Those concerns lack merit.”

If the tax returns are not given to lawmakers by April 23, it appears increasingly likely the showdown could head to federal court, the Associated Press reports. Neal could also attempt to subpoena the documents.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers in statehouses are pushing for the president’s tax information via a different channel. On Monday, two Democrats in New York, Trump’s home state, said they planned to introduce a bill that would make it easier for the state to hand over tax returns to congressional committees. On Thursday, the Illinois state Senate advanced legislation that would require Trump to release five years of his returns in order to put his name on the state’s 2020 presidential ballot. Seventeen other states are reportedly considering similar legislation. 


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.